Myanmar food has a particular smell. It’s obvious once you step into Peninsula Plaza. To most of my friends, it evokes an “Eww my hair is going to stink” reaction but to me, it causes me to salivate. I think it’s the smell of fermented fish and fermented beans.
I have noticed as well that Singaporeans tend not to like Myanmar food. Every time I eat at one of these restaurants or cafes, I’m the only Singaporean in a sea of Burmese people. Sometimes the stall keepers don’t even speak English. They don’t need to because their clientèle are all their people.
There are a couple of Myanmar restaurants at Peninsula Plaza. Yanant Thit Myanmar Restaurant, which is located in the basement, is the one that I frequent most often. I have been a loyal customer for the past five years. Whenever I’m in City Hall, I would go there for delicious Burmese food.
It’s a bit like eating interesting economy rice. Everything is somewhat familiar. The ingredients are not strange; you get your one meat dish and two vegetable dishes but everything is cooked in exotic and wonderful sauces infused with herbs and fermented fish. The predominant tastes are sour and salty.
I always eat the “economy rice” (without the rice) at Burmese restaurants. This is what I ordered today during lunch – beef and two vegetables. You won’t believe how much it costs though. Something like this at a coffee shop would cost $5 at the very most.
I was charged $10 for this.
“$10??” I spluttered.
“Yes,” the stall keeper replied, “$2.50 each for the vegetables and $5 for the meat.”
I fumed and moaned about the cost to Barbara. “But I really like the taste,” I whined. That meant that I would have no choice but to come back and pay for the expensive meal.
It’s really difficult to describe the tastes in my food. The beef was delicious, albeit a tad too tough and was a bit like jerky, whereas the two vegetable dishes were delicious and had that typical salty/sour Myanmar taste to it.
Barbara’s dishes were equally good. She had the same vegetables but chose melons stuffed with pork for her second dish. We were entitled to free soup that was refillable. Once again, it was sour/salty but in a delicious way. It was a bit like salted duck vegetable soup. But better.
It’s great that Burmese cuisine uses fermented ingredients in their cooking. I read that fermented food is supposed to be good for stomach health by introducing helpful probiotics to our guts.
Penisula Plaza is a great place to try out different Burmese restaurants. Across Yanant Thit is its more famous neighbour, Inle Myanmar. I have not tried it but it has mixed reviews. Apart from the basement, the top levels are also dotted with Myanmar restaurants and various shops selling Burmese products.
Yanant Thit Myanmar Restaurant
Blk 111 North Bridge Road
#B1-07, Peninsula Plaza